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Big present donated to family of critically injured Hewitt grad

By Gary Lloyd

TRUSSVILLE — This gift needs a huge bow.

On Thursday, four months in the making came to fruition when Trussville-based McSweeney Holdings donated a 2008 Mercedes Sprinter van to the family of Jamison Franklin, a Hewitt-Trussville High School graduate paralyzed in a 2011 off-road accident in Grayson Valley.

“What an incredible group of folks,” Jamison’s mother, Holly Franklin, said in an email.

McSweeney Holdings Managing Partner Michael McSweeney said Hewitt-Trussville High School English teacher Simona Herring, one of his teachers when he was in school, contacted him about four months ago, explaining Franklin’s accident. Herring told him that the family had a 1989 handicap van that they transported him in, but that it needed to be worked on.

The Franklin family with the new van
submitted photo

“We then found out that ‘needed to be worked on’ was an understatement,” McSweeney said.

McSweeney said the McSweeney Foundation, formed with the mission of providing general food, shelter and clothing to meet the needs of those who need it most, wanted to help. The foundation partnered this year with the Trussville Ecumenical Assistive Ministry and Serving You. The foundation this year raised $59,415 solely from the McSweeney Holdings employees, and donated $41,292 to a handful of initiatives.

“We believe that a lot more can be accomplished when more groups with a similar vision pull together in the same direction,” McSweeney said.

McSweeney said the group decided the old van was too far gone to put money into. He said the group searched for a more reliable van that could be donated to them, complete with a handicap lift.

“Through normal course of business, we needed a Mercedes Sprinter van to perform some safety testing on, but we did not need a new one,” McSweeney said. “Then the light went off in my head and I figured we could kill two birds with one stone by purchasing the van for the safety testing, and then fixing it up and donating it to the Franklins once we were done with it. So that is what happened.”

McSweeney said a Braun wheelchair lift and necessary electronics were installed to support Franklin’s life support system, and the interior was converted into a passenger van that could accommodate passenger seating.

McSweeney said donating the van to the Franklins was “such a blessing to us all.”

Read more about Jamison Franklin here and here.

Contact Gary Lloyd at and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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